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International Visitor Program

Maintenance Allowance - Reimbursements - Debit Cards

International visitors sponsored by the US Forest Service and its official partners are eligible to participate in activities authorized in the letter of invitation, the program description and the information stated on the DS-2019 if they are J-1 visa holders. The activities of international visitors and maintenance allowances to cover living expenses may be funded in full or part by the US Government, foreign governments or partner organizations. Funds may be transferred to the exchange visitor through a debit card or US Treasury check. Research scholars here for significant lengths of time may open bank accounts and thus, may receive US Treasury check payments. Short-term visitors coming for study tours, seminars or other programs of less than 6 months will benefit most from easy and immediate access to funds made possible through the debit card program.

Program Design
J-1 Visas
Health Insurance
Maintenance Allowance - Reimbursements
Exchange Visitor Program Orientations
Required J-1 Program Monitoring and Reporting

The US Forest Service debit card program allows for a safe and immediate transfer of funds. The process is as follows:

1) The Host Unit submits all application materials including program budget, fiscal coding or agreement serving as a certification of funds to the International Programs office. The budget must provide for the overhead charges associated with this service.

2) As the program start date approaches, the Host Unit and visitor should confirm that the visitor has received his or her visa and return the receipt of the Acceptance of Responsibility/Agreement to Abide by Program Terms and Conditions or send other verification of program participation. International Programs will send via express mail the Chase E-funds debit card, instructions and receipt form to the host advisor of the international visitor. The debit card has already been activated. International Programs will then email the initial personal identification number (PIN) to the host advisor. The visitor may change his/her PIN by contacting Chase E-Funds Customer Service Center directly.

3) The host advisor is required to explain the terms and conditions of using the debit card, provide assistance in understanding directions for use, and ask the international visitor to sign the receipt form. This form states that the visitor understands what funds will be provided and the terms and conditions of continued funding. This receipt form must be faxed or mailed to the International Programs office immediately.

4) The exchange visitor will have the opportunity to access any funds authorized and available in the account. To access funds through an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), the visitor should choose to withdraw funds from a “Checking Account.” The disbursement date for monthly maintenance allowances will be determined by the requesting office or by date of arrival. Funds will be available on or about this date each month. If, for any reason, the visitor’s program is terminated early or if the visitor fails to comply with program guidelines, the debit card can be suspended and access to funds can be terminated immediately. Cards can be cancelled completely within 10 calendar days. Host advisors and International Programs staff will coordinate assistance to exchange visitors and resolve any issues related to departures from the intended program activities.  

Useful Information:

  • The Chase debit cards carry the visa logo and can be used to make purchases or withdraw cash from automatic teller machines.
  • The cards do have a daily limit, which is indicated on the instruction sheet provided.
  • Card holders should not rely on the card for online purchases or reservations as not all online vendors accept debit card payments. Also, rental car companies generally do not accept debit cards.
  • To change Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) contact: Chase E-Funds Customer Service 1-(888) 606-7058
  • International visitors receiving funds from the US government may need to file tax returns. Please see the section on Employment & Taxes for more information.

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Next Service:Required J-1 Program Monitoring and Reporting

If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Brenda Dean , International Visitor Program Coordinator, Responsible Officer, (202) 644-4640,
  • Rima Eid, International Visitor Program Specialist, Alternate Responsible Officer, (202)644-4642,
  • Kristin Corcoran, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4643,
  • Misty Sidhu, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4645,
  • Ashlee Jackson, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4644,
  • Lee Blaser, International Visitor Program Specialist, (202) 644-4631,

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